The Kiwanis Club of Uptown Riverside was chartered in 1956. It has had a major impact on the quality of life in our community for over six decades. At the time it was initiated, the City population was a little over 60,000 and the Club became the second Kiwanis Club in the City, spawned from the “Riverside Club” which at the time was meeting “downtown” in the old YMCA.
All of the original chartered members are gone, but the Club carries on with the same spirit and sense of purpose it has always had in a City now well over 320,000. It was named the “Uptown” club due to its original meeting places centered around the new Riverside Plaza at the time. Two smaller Kiwanis Clubs in our City that had started later, have since merged with “Uptown” (the University Club in 1999 and the Arlington Club in 2011) and have substantially strengthened our membership. Our current most long term member is Jim Dudek who joined in 1963. He served our Country in WWII as a paratrooper in the Army behind enemy lines.
“Uptown Kiwanis” has met in a number of restaurants for its weekly meetings over the years including, Carlos O’Brien’s in the Plaza, the Elks Club, The Sheraton Hotel, Tava Lane’s Bowling Alley, and now for a number of years at the Canyon Crest Country Club. Members include a broad range of business, government, education, military, and devoted residents who have a singular goal to improve their community.
Kiwanis International our parent organization, like many National Service Clubs have done over the years, broadened its membership to include women in 1987. Our Club was able to promptly add several women to its roles and discovered, like the whole nation did in that era, that their input, talent, and leadership added much to the Club’s performance. Membership has no geographical limits and draws from a broad cross section of people throughout the City without regard to race, sex, or religion. For most of its life “Uptown” was in Division 6 of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District, but in 2016 it was moved into Division 15.
Our projects are predominantly focused on Children, with our motto “Children are Priority One”. Many other community projects have been undertaken as well, frequently with hands-on efforts such as painting, cleanups, graffiti removal, tree planting, etc. and /or financial support. The Club has sponsored four Elementary Schools and three High School Key Clubs for many years. These programs promote attendance and achievement recognition in the Elementary grades and leadership training and scholarships for outstanding High School students working in our Key Clubs. In addition, we have purchased and individually delivered dictionaries for all 3rd graders (some 3,100+ students per year) in the Riverside Unified School District for more than a decade. The local Salvation Army, Assistance League, Police and Fire Departments, and numerous other programs are often supported as well.